Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sometimes, I Do Good

I bet you thought I had forgotten about warp #2, or miscounted, at the very least.  Not so, not so.  I was just waiting for it to be finished.

Back in September, I had the great fun of visiting my friend Devin in the house he and his partner had just bought.  I wanted to bring them a house-warming/house guest present.  So, I decided to weave them napkins.

The warp is 16/2 cotton; the weft is 40/2 linen.  The draft is a slight alteration of Marjie Thompson's Ms and Ws draft in Complex Weavers Greatest Hits.

This was such a pleasure to weave.  I never thought I'd enjoy something without any color, but the warp behaved perfectly and the cloth was perfect.  OK, there are minor errors and mistakes here and there, but damn, this was real cloth.

I was just SO pleased with myself.

And Darx, if you'd really like that crappy first backstrap, contact me through Ravelry; I'm enallagma9 there.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Warp 8: Oh, The Joy

Or not.

I need a backstrap - you know, the wide band that goes around one's hips.  So I set to backstrap-weaving myself a straightforward plainweave band.  Thick cabled cotton for the warp, something that's been in my stash forever.  Four strands of cotton rug warp yarn held together for the weft.

We won't talk about the two-yard-long warp I wound first, shall we?  The winding wasn't the problem, let's just say, but I will say it brightens up a trash can nicely.

On to Warp 8B, one yard long.  OK, I could weave on this, but oh, I did a crappy job.  It's all of 3.5 inches wide, but clearing the sheds was difficult.  Not for the usual reason (fuzzy cotton sticking to itself), but because I don't know how to handle a wider warp.  The heddled shed behaved reasonably well on its stick, but the other shed, the one with just a loop of yarn holding it together - that one didn't work well at all.  Maybe it should be on a stick, too? I need to read more in Laverne's blog and Weavezine article.  In fact, what I really need to do is print out all the useful bits from her blog and put them in a notebook I can have to hand while I'm weaving.  Digital stuff is all well and good, but it's awkward to access when you're attached to a warp.

Anyhow, here it is in all its glory.

It's a little too short for my wide hips, although I followed Laverne's directions for length (she's much more slender). If I finish the ends by braiding or twisting, it won't go around me far enough. I didn't control the turning of the weft at the selvedges very well, so it looks crappy. (Actually, there were two wefts, each with four strands. I threw a pick from each direction for each shed, so there are 8 strands of weft laid in each shed.)

In fact, this turned out so badly I think I'll throw it out, too, and weave myself a proper backstrap on a floor loom, using rep weave.  One of these days, I'll be able to handle a wider warp as a backstrap-weaving project, but not just yet, apparently.

Rather discouraging, really.  Most of a Saturday wasted fighting with this project, and there are so few wide-open Saturdays in my life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Warp #7: Just a little band

I wove a simple, plainweave, backstrap band, all by myself.

It isn't perfect - there are a few warp floats and I missed catching one edge thread in the heddles - but it's a perfectly functional yard-and-a-half of colorful band. I haven't a clue what I'll use it for.

It is nice to be enjoying the process of learning, to laugh at myself when I realize I missed an edge thread, to take pleasure in the inches piling up, to not be frustrated because I've learned new skills often enough now that I know my backstrap bands won't be anywhere near perfect for a long time yet, and that's just fine.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Backstrap with Laverne: Warps #3-6

I was privileged over the last two days to take a beginning backstrap weaving class with Laverne Waddington at the delightful and well-stocked Sheep and Shawl in South Deerfield, Massachusetts.  It was wonderful! My brain is so full, I can't be terribly articulate, but I'll say this:  Take a class from Laverne. Just do it.

Over the two days, we worked on four warps:

From left to right: The first warp was already prepared for us by Laverne. The photo shows both ends of the warp.  This warp was just to get us used to working the loom and to accustom our fingers to the process.  The left-hand side is my first end; the right-hand end is after we turned the warp to the other end.  I improved!

We wound the second warp, the brown and orange one, in class and used it to practice simple, 6-end pickup patterns. The photo shows the back of the band; can you see where I wrapped the warp from side to side?  Oops.

At the end of day one, we practiced making a warp again and too the warp home to work on.  I only got a little ways along, just playing with pickup patterns, but I will finish this off.  I plan to finish all of these warps, just for the practice.

On day 2, we wound a wider warp and learned to make heddles over a stick.  Then we practiced two supplementary weft techniques.  For the first one, the extra weft goes all the way from one side of the band to other.  I did the blue and (incomplete) red motifs that way; you can see how I didn't crowd the white warps closely enough to really hide the colored weft.  The second weft technique just inlays the weft from side to side of the motif, with the turning of the weft forming a narrow line up the sides of the motif. Mine were in copper and just a little wonky.

I am so pleased with everything I learned! I'm going to practice a lot more, just to cement all these techniques in my brain, so expect to see lots of little bands in the months to come.  Someday, I aspire to weave something like this, one of Laverne's many, many samples she brought to show us:

Fantastic, isn't it? I might turn out to be a bag lady after all.